Everything You Need To Know About The New REAL ID

Miami International Airport, security screening queue.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you’ve been to an airport lately, you’ve probably seen Transportation Security Administration signs about upcoming changes to ID requirements. What exactly is the REAL ID Act, and what do you need to do in order to meet the new requirements? Read on for everything you need to know.

The REAL ID Act was first proposed following the September 11, 2001 attacks, to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The federal government is just now fully implementing the act, but all states need to compliant by October 1, 2020.

Starting on that date, every air traveler aged 18 or over will have to present a REAL ID-compliant license or another approved form of identification (like a passport or passport card) to access federal facilities. Since airports are considered federal facilities, this will affect your ability to board a flight.

Some states have already been issuing compliant REAL IDs, which feature a star in the top right corner. Since these licenses are issued at the state level, you will need to check your state’s specific deadlines and requirements.

If you have a U.S. passport or U.S. passport card, you can use these in addition to your normal identification. Other, less common alternatives are a permanent resident card, Department of Defense ID, enhanced driver’s license, or federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID. But if you don’t have any of these, you’ll need to get a REAL ID.

To get one of the new cards or if you still have questions, make an appointment at a DMV office in your state, and they will guide you through the process. You can also visit the TSA’s website for more information.